Seriousness of Sports


#1

So I kind of brought this up in another thread, but I kind of wanted to address it directly. How do you think we should view sports as Christians? I think sports are a great outlet to exercise virtue and in no way completely against them. But personally I feel that sports like many areas have been made overly serious by us humans. Ive seen certain organizations try to promote Christ inside athletics and i think its very noble. However I think everything should branch off of Christ and I don't modern collegiate and professional sports do that in any way. Note: Im a former division 1 cross country and track runner. Very open to opinions about this as i dont necessarily think there is an absolute answer here.


#2

Sports in most of their forms are morally neutral.

It is each individuals attitude towards them that is either good or bad.

If used correctly they can be a great aid to teaching and inspiring virtuous behavior, such as the self control needed to become a top athlete, the drive to better oneself and the practice of good sportsmanship where you show respect to your opponents and play fair tec.

They can also however become a form of idolatry and encourage people to behave in an immoral way, such as the way some people idolize certain sports stars and put sport before God, or adopt the win by any means/ if your not cheating your not trying mentality that can also be found within sports.


#3

Anything can be turned into an idol when we lose our proper perspective -- sports included.

But, they are many positive virtues to be cultivated through sports: teamwork, discipline, etc.


#4

Humans can do LOTS of things, including various sports.

It's a common mistake to overemphasize sports to kids. They need to know about a lot of things, not just a few things.

Most parents, I understand, feel kids sports are overly professionalized.


#5

I agree in principle that sports are value neutral and that they can teach many good virtues. However, in practice, throughout the US at this time, sports are much more on the side of being an idol than not. The amount of money spent on sports and paid to sports ‘stars’, the time commitment expected from even young athletes, these are certainly signs of idolatry.

The question I think needs to be discussed is how we as Christians can help society move away from this – make a principled stand for a balance.


#6

If you figure out how to do this, please write a book and send me a copy! :stuck_out_tongue:

Seriously, though, it does seem to be a growing problem. I know a lot of DRE’s and catechists who find it nearly impossible to compete with sports for the kids’ time. I participated in football, baseball, and swimming when I was a kid (and many other sports in a more informal way), but it wasn’t like it is today for my nephews. I like Captain America’s phrase “overly professionalized”. That really does seem to describe my experience.


#7

Sports are a way to test each other physically, and they're fun to participate in and to watch. We need exercise, we need fun: all in all, sports are a good thing. You can't become the kind of runner by running by yourself that you can be by racing. Even if you could, it isn't as fun.

Having said that, the competition ought to be respected as those who provide the test that makes our best performances possible, not some kind of enemy out to steal something that belongs to us and not some kind of second-class citizen from the Land of Defeat. Everyone who puts in a courageous effort has earned the respect due to a job well done, not just the winners. Everyone ought to conduct themselves in a civilized way, and not just those who haven't made the winner's circle a habit.

As for the professionalization of youth sports, I think early over-specialization is a particular danger. It leaves children more prone to over-use injuries than seasonal changes in activity. This is why the orthopedic surgeons are seeing injuries in youth sports that they never used to see. For instance, it is suggested that baseball players do no hard overhead throwing for 3 months out of the year.


#8

Sport is in itself pretty good. It teaches discipline, team working and co-ordination/motor skills among other things. Plus, it’s also healthy, which is good as we are instructed in the Bible to treat our bodies with care as temples for God.

It’s only a bad thing should we allow it to do so. Things like arguing with teammates/the coach/the referee (or umpire), fighting and so on are caused not by the sport itself but us as people.

From 1 Timothy 4:

‘‘For physical training is of some value…’’


#9

I guess i agree that theoretically sports can be good, even at the professional level. However, it practically isn't being done in my opinion. How many collegiate or pro athletes would tell you that the reason they compete is to first and foremost glorify God? I know I did not think that way as an athlete, like others it was just a selfish pursuit.

Do you think its harder to keep your faith as a regular worker in the world who happens to be in a rec softball league, or plays basketball everyday, or exercises everyday...compared to a professional athlete who has continuously remind themselves that this game millions of fans are watching is no more important than the job of the school teacher or plumber. My point is that it is possible for someone to have proper perspective at a collegiate or professional level, however it comes with a tremendous amount of baggage that i don't think is necessary to develop virtues or self-control that a smaller scale such as high school and middle school levels can (and rec leagues).


#10

[quote="GenerationY, post:9, topic:238683"]
I guess i agree that theoretically sports can be good, even at the professional level. However, it practically isn't being done in my opinion. How many collegiate or pro athletes would tell you that the reason they compete is to first and foremost glorify God? I know I did not think that way as an athlete, like others it was just a selfish pursuit.

Do you think its harder to keep your faith as a regular worker in the world who happens to be in a rec softball league, or plays basketball everyday, or exercises everyday...compared to a professional athlete who has continuously remind themselves that this game millions of fans are watching is no more important than the job of the school teacher or plumber. My point is that it is possible for someone to have proper perspective at a collegiate or professional level, however it comes with a tremendous amount of baggage that i don't think is necessary to develop virtues or self-control that a smaller scale such as high school and middle school levels can (and rec leagues).

[/quote]

In the USA you are right , but this is not the case in South America and Africa, sports stars from these countries often publicly ask for God's blessing before competing and credit Him with their success.

It can be done.


#11

Before I became Captain America, I played plenty of sports: baseball, tennis, running, hockey, softball. Lettered in high school and college, and taught and coached. In the very best situations you learn how to work as part of a team, you also learn the value of sticking with it (skill development, or the game itself).

But at the end of the day, I learned a ton more useful things through scouting, to be honest.

I would not put my kids into one of the for-profit kids sports teams here: the season is too long, the time commitment is far too much for any reasonable person, and. . . how many of us have driven past an illuminated ball field around 10-10:30 at night and seen 8 year-olds out there freezing in the spring cold. I have a lot of problem with coaches teaching kids how to wheedle, lie and cheat. A lot of nuttiness. Some balance is needed.


#12

My experience playing (American) football was a very positive one and I believe it taught me many lessons in Christian virtues.

I often played on the offensive line in which you never score a point, your entire role is to protect others. It built character to be in the trenches, constantly battering my body for the sake of my quarterback and my running backs. No glory comes to an offensive lineman - your “saves” are not highlight reel-worthy, but rather necessary and expected. You learn to help and depend upon your four other comrades on the line if a hole is being breached. The experience taught me lessons in humility, sacrifice, patience, perseverance and fraternity. I know offensive line positions aren’t available to all or even most young men, as they are largely dependent upon size and strength, but I would recommend the experience to any young man if I could.

Further, I cannot say enough about some of my former coaches, especially the late John Crockett. I don’t think I’ve ever met another man as loving of people that he wasn’t related to in my entire life. There is a type of sports coach that is interested in his own glory, and another that is interested in his child’s glory, but the kind that coaches simply for the love of helping young people grow… God bless them, they are truly blessings to us all.


#13

Harvard, at what level did you play? And how often/when were your games and practices? Did your coaches ever say you couldn't play because you missed a Sunday morning practice? Or threaten to drop you from the team because you couldn't play an all-day Sunday tournament?

These things are happening now to school-aged children playing 'elite' or 'travel' sports around here. Yes, they are on higher level teams, but we aren't talking professional, college or even high school championship. These are kids from about 11 up playing on community teams.

So, the answer for the family is to say no, you can't play on those teams. You can play recreational sports and for school teams only. I have friends who have said that, to the great disappointment of their children. And who have then been hounded by coaches and other parents for their position.

My point is that even in the past 10 years, the level of sports fanaticism in the US has grown tremendously to the detriment of many families Sunday Mass observance and their children's moral understanding of the importance of worship in our lives.


#14

[quote="Mrs_Sally, post:13, topic:238683"]
Harvard, at what level did you play? And how often/when were your games and practices? Did your coaches ever say you couldn't play because you missed a Sunday morning practice? Or threaten to drop you from the team because you couldn't play an all-day Sunday tournament?

These things are happening now to school-aged children playing 'elite' or 'travel' sports around here. Yes, they are on higher level teams, but we aren't talking professional, college or even high school championship. These are kids from about 11 up playing on community teams.

So, the answer for the family is to say no, you can't play on those teams. You can play recreational sports and for school teams only. I have friends who have said that, to the great disappointment of their children. And who have then been hounded by coaches and other parents for their position.

My point is that even in the past 10 years, the level of sports fanaticism in the US has grown tremendously to the detriment of many families Sunday Mass observance and their children's moral understanding of the importance of worship in our lives.

[/quote]

If you have a truly talented, hard-working child(ren) that has potential in the sport, why not allow them to compete with "elite" teams if they can earn a spot? It could earn them a free ride through the best colleges in the U.S. and that can give a family a lot of freedom from worry and debt, as well as give a young man or woman wonderful opportunities to get a great education and see the country/world.

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And what's wrong with a Sunday morning practice or an all-day Sunday tournament? For Catholics, there is the option of a vigil Mass on Sat. evening. The Church fully endorses this--there's nothing "inferior" about vigil Masses.

And there are plenty of elite teams with coaches who will work with parents to allow a child to practice their faith and still compete.

Sure, it's easy to be a Catholic when you shut out all distractions. The greater challenge is being a good Catholic in the midst of the distractions. What a great testimony to all the other athletes on the team, when a young man or woman fully lives their faith and at the same time, does the sport well and is a true team player.

And that's real life. Even if children are raised in the most sheltered, guarded family home, eventually most children will leave the nest and discover that the world is full of distractions that don't allow them to attend daily Mass (almost all jobs on day shifts), or force them to work weekends and holidays (almost all health care professions, and many more professions and jobs on all shifts).

It is good for a child to learn how to balance it all while they are young.

My daughters were both members throughout high school of an elite (National champions, international and World medalists) synchronized skating team. The experience was tremendously positive. The head coach was a hard-driving, demanding coach who got the best out of her athletes, and both of my daughters loved her and still love her and stay in touch with her and others who were part of that team. (The team is still going strong, BTW, still winning medals all over the world).

A few weeks ago, we attended a national recreational synchro competition because the teams that my daughter now coaches were there competing. (They all medalled, and the Youth team won the overall championship, and my daughter's teen team took second in the overall championship against 18 teams.)

At this competition, my daughter met up with at least 10 other coaches who are alumni of that elite synchro team. They had a great reunion. To me, this says that all those mornings of getting up at 3 in the morning and commuting for 65 miles (one way), and all those Saturday and Sunday practices that lasted for several hours, and all those late-night practices, and all that missed school and all those missed social activities in high school and ALL THAT MONEY that we spent--it was all worth it! Those kids grew up loving this sport and that's why they're all coaching it today. My daughter often says that she wants HER teams to have the same experiences and make the same memories that SHE has.

BTW, my daughter's expenses to this competition were all paid for, since she is now the coach. She makes almost $40/hour coaching. So the sport paid off in practical as well as esoteric ways.

Certainly every family should make the decision that is right for them about sports. But I ask that parents not be so quick to dismiss the benefits of elite, travel teams and sports. There are immense benefits. If the child is right for the sport, please consider giving them the opportunity to excel.


#15

Cat I know your daughters had an exceptional experience. I truly did not see the same thing playing out among friends whose children were on these teams. Elite ice skating and 'travel' soccer/basketball/etc are two different things. Your daughters skated on the same team for the same coach (or a small handful of them). My friends kids are placed on a new team each season with different coaches who are not always amenable to working things out.

For the families I've seen do this, it wasn't an easy decision or one they were taking to 'shelter' their children from the big, bad world. It was taken because the sports were becoming overbearing on their lives. A child who is good at a sport doesn't have a guarantee of a free ride to college, and doesn't always want to make that sport her life.

Also, yes, Saturday evening Mass is available to Catholics, but not to other Christians.And not even to all Catholics--especially if you need to travel to get to the all day or all weekend tournament.

My posts are not meant to bash all sports, or to discourage an athlete who is truly exceptional at their sport. What I am saying is that the "industrial sports complex" is taking too much time from faith, family, and other pursuits and I'm wondering how it can be reined in.


#16

[quote="Mrs_Sally, post:15, topic:238683"]
My posts are not meant to bash all sports, or to discourage an athlete who is truly exceptional at their sport. What I am saying is that the "industrial sports complex" is taking too much time from faith, family, and other pursuits and I'm wondering how it can be reined in.

[/quote]

I appreciate the points that you raise and the reasonable tone that you use.

IMO, the "industrial sports complex" can best be reigned in by participating, eventually getting elected or appointed to committees and governing Boards, and then using that power to bring about good changes.

If we stay away from the sports (or other organizations), no change will happen.

Obviously you only get involved if your children or teenagers love the particular sport (or other activity). You don't get involved with anything that the kids hate. It is very wrong for parents to try to live vicariously through their children, and I think that one of the problems with sports, both recreational and competitive, is that many parents are trying to live vicariously through their children, while their children are ambivalent about the whole thing and would really prefer to do something else, but their parents won't let them.

If you've ever noticed, most children's sports favor "aggressive" parents, people who are exhiliarated by controversy and who do not back down. These parents hunger for information and they aren't afraid to go after it and keep asking until they are satisfied that they have all the information.

And they're always looking for "a better way to do things," and they don't like being told by a hired coach what to do or how to think, and they don't accept that "this is the way we've always done it."

I would describe myself this way, as well as most of the skating parents that I have known. ;)

Now these traits don't necessarily make us surly! I'm a very nice person. But I have claws and I'm not afraid to use them, and I am not afraid to get embroiled in a conflict if I think that the resolution will lead to a better way.

What often happens in sport clubs and organizations is that parents like me get elected or appointed to leadership positions. Then the quieter, less aggressive parents choose sides and line up behind me or my opponents. Several "camps" of parents develop, and the leaders of those camps go after the "prize," whatever it is. In figure skating, the "prize" might be getting put in charge of a competition or an ice show, which means that YOU have the privilege of running things and making the event the way you want to make it (within established boundaries, of course).

I like this. I like when things are done my way, and I completely believe that my way is often the best way! And so do all the parents who line up behind me and volunteer to help me!

Because of me, synchronized skating still exists in our city. It is not strong, but it's there, and kids don't have to commute 65 miles like mine did to skate on a synchro team. I faced down coaches who thought that synchro was a waste of time, park district commissioners who said that synchro was a "passing fad," and parents who thought that synchro was "for kids who can't jump." I fought for it and I'm proud of that fight and the results.

Do you see what I'm getting at? ** The way to make change happen is to dive right in and get involved. No change will happen when decent Christian people stay away.

It is almost always the PARENTS who drive changes in any children's sports. Yes, there is a hired staff of sports professionals, and there is a sports federation that is in charge of the sport in the U.S. But it is PARENTS who run the sport locally, and they are the ones on the Boards and the ones who attend the annual meetings of the Federation and cast cast the votes that determine the changes that will happen in the sport.

E.g., last week the Figure Skating General Council meeting was held. Delegates, mainly parents, from figure skating clubs all over the U.S. attended this meeting, and voted on many issues.

One of the issues that they voted on was whether or not to continue the Junior Nationals as a separate competition usually held a few weeks before Christmas, or to merge the Junior Nationals with the Senior Nationals and hold just one competition around the end of February.

Now as a parent, how would YOU feel about your child skating in a National competition, a very important competition, only a few weeks before Christmas?! :eek: ALL that time and money and travel during the height of the holiday season--yikes!

Thankfully (IMO), the vote was to end the separate Junior Nationals competition and merge this competition with the Senior Nationals, which is the competition that you see on TV every year. It will be at the end of February, so now all the families with younger (junior) skaters can have their December back again to prepare for and celebrate whatever holiday they celebrate.

The point is, all this happened because of the involvement of PARENTS. Parents were the ones who have objected for several years to the December competition. Parents were the ones who sat on the federation committees that arrived at the recommendation to merge two competitions. And parents are the ones who voted for the change last week. I think it's an excellent change.

So once again, if you want things to change, you have to get involved and work your way up to a position of expertise and authority. If you opt out of involvement, changes won't happen.**


#17

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